A Straight Forward Colorado Solve……

leadville train

September 2019

By Aaron R.


A little preface before I get into my solution.  I based my solve primarily on the poem, giving it as straight-forward a reading as I possibly could—no hidden meanings or code-type solutions.  I don’t know whether this is the correct approach, its just the only one I was smart enough to attempt.  I ended up with no Indulgence, but perhaps some of my thoughts will aid my fellow searchers.  In any event, I was able to take my first ever trip to the Rocky Mountains which was a beautiful and spiritual experience beyond my ability to put into words.  Also, I didn’t take as many pictures of the clues as I would have liked, sorry.  In any event, here it what I came up with:

“Begin it where warm waters halt”— I chose Leadville Colorado. Just above Leadville is a point where three major watersheds halt (waters). All of these watersheds eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico (warm). There is also a major molybdenum mine at this point (riches new) and this was a popular area for gold mining during the Colorado gold rush (riches old). Also, as other searchers have noted, Leadville is the highest incorporated town in the US– 10,200 feet. There is an airstrip and a hertz rental so Forrest could have hidden the treasure in a single day if he flew himself up. Finally, Forrest said he followed the clues when he hid the treasure. Any way you drive from Leadville you will, by necessity, have followed the clues.

“And take it in the canyon down, Not far, but too far to walk.”–  For the longest time I was thinking that the canyon started right at WWWH and that you took it in the canyon not far, but too far to walk.  After reading for the 1,000th or so time, I saw a different possibility.  “Not far, but too far to walk” refers to “down”, as in the canyon itself is located some distance away from WWWH.  I choose the canyon just below Red Cliff, Colorado.  

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Its about 21 miles from Leadville, too far to walk, but a fairly short drive.  One feature I liked about this canyon is that a road runs along its rim—about 500 feet up from the bottom.  Plus, its easily accessible via abandoned railroad tracks.  Another bonus that I didn’t realize until I was walking the tracks is that red raspberries grow along the entire canyon, and they were ripe as I made the hike.  Perfect Snacking!

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“Put in below the home of Brown.”—This is one I’m really upset that I didn’t take a picture of, but I’ll show the satellite photo that attracted me to the feature:

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I noticed that the cliff side had a very particular shade of brown coming down from the top.  In person it is even more dramatic.  To me it appeared to be as close to a “true” brown as you can get.  I did some research and the color is emanating from an abandoned mine called the Champion mine.  The primary mineral mined from Champion was siderite.  Siderite’s primary use is as pigment for brown paint.  To me, this sounded like the mine is the “home” of “Brown”—literally the color brown.  As for the capitalization, I’m not sure.  Maybe its because he was personifying Brown by giving it a home, maybe it’s a poet’s way of saying “brown” itself—the color.  In any event, it’s the best “home of Brown” I had come across that wasn’t related to a person.

“From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;”–  I’m not sure if there are two clues here, or just one.  I had identified Petersen creek from satellite photos as the place I wanted to go.  I had no idea if I could get up there safely from the canyon.  Luckily, it turns out that I could.  I believe that “no place for the meek” means that its time to leave the comfortable path—in this case the railroad tracks.  Just below the Champion mine, the side of the canyon gave way and I was able to head up into the trees.  It was off to the left, but I’m not sure if nigh is a clue for turning left or not, but a left turn into the brush is what I made.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek”–  Petersen creek drops steeply down the canyon wall.  No paddling or even wading up this creek.

“Just heavy loads and water high.”—As I made my way up towards the creek, I could hear rushing water before I even arrived.  There were several smaller waterfalls and huge boulders on either side of the creek.  

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The picture doesn’t do it justice.  You can barely see it, but the waterfall continues above, through the branches.  This is about 200 feet up from the railroad tracks.

At this point I was pretty jacked.  I can honestly see how people get hurt looking for the treasure given how I was acting at this spot.  All though of personal safety was out the window.  Although it wasn’t life threatening, I could have easily broken a leg scrambling over rocks and criss-crossing the stream looking for a blaze.  Full. On. Treasure Mode.

Then I saw it.  I looked up and saw this large rock looked EXACTLY like a face.  I jumped because it was so startling.  Of course, I took a picture of it, and of course the picture was nowhere on my phone when I had left the area.  Sorry.  I climbed up– not too difficult—and looked all around.  Over, under, sideways, standing on top looking down, sitting on top looking down, sitting underneath . . . and on and on.  Nothing.  

I only spent about an hour looking over the area, but it wasn’t too large of a spot.  No other signs of a blaze (maybe I’m not wise enough) and no chest.  There were remains of mining structures in the area and signs of recent rock falls.  If the chest had been hidden at this spot, there’s no way one could be comfortable that it would remain intact for 10 years, let alone 100.  Plus I couldn’t see any mountains given how narrow the canyon was.  Still, it was pretty exciting.  I felt like I found things that could have represented 8 clues, but close doesn’t count in the chase.

Maybe someone will read something here that helps them find the treasure.  As for me, I might be done.  My only goal in this was to find a spot where the treasure could be located and go on an adventure to try and find it.  Mission accomplished!  

Aaron R.






45 thoughts on “A Straight Forward Colorado Solve……

  1. Thanks for the post Aaron. Sorry you didn’t find Indulgence, but at least you were in beautiful country. Thanks again for the post – JDA

    • The end result was worth every second I spent at home searching for the treasure. I knew that the mountains would be beautiful, but my wildest imagination couldn’t prepare me for the beauty I saw. I like to imagine that this is exactly why Forrest hid the chest. I will be forever grateful to him for giving me the experience.

  2. Paraphrasing, “The treasure is hidden above 5,000′ and below 10,200′.” I believe the upper limit has possibilities to draw searchers to Leadville. I enjoyed your story and how you understood the poem. The pictures are great. Happy you were able to enjoy the raspberries along the way.

  3. Aaugh! Charlie Brown, Aaron.

    Why..why.. did you have to start out with; “I based my solve primarily on the poem, giving it as straight-forward a reading as I possibly could—no hidden meanings”

    HA! .. you must have known I would ask… what hidden “hidden ‘meanings” means?

    • I’ve seen people analyzing the punctuation, all of the “a” and “the” appearances, counting letters, etc. In my opinion, none of that is necessary. Then again, I don’t have Indulgence so I wouldn’t know.

  4. My solve in this area followed somewhat the same route except my “Heavy loads and water high” was the Angel of Shavano. If you are not aware Shavano was the name of the Ute Indian War Chief. Angel of Shavano is made of snow that falls between two mountains making a snow angel. Really kind of interesting. In this area a girl was kidnapped by the Comanche and in her book she talks about the area with plates (lead) of metal sticking out of the ground. Indians for centuries stayed in the valley and placed gifts at what they believed was spiritual events.

    I thought the treasure was placed along the fault line (blaze) that clearly crosses the mountain below the Angel of Shavano, but I looked several times, nothing.

    • I will never be able to eat store bought red raspberries again. Where I live (Ohio) I don’t find reds growing wild– only black raspberries. I love wild edibles in general. If I see it, I eat it!

  5. I will say that my personal hunch or solve is in Colorado, but I have no confidence yet on it being solid. One thing that is similar to this pattern of solves to mine is that, my first clue solve also has a canyon not immediately near the first clue.

  6. I liked the Champion Mine idea as Forrest recently had the SB about berries. He spoke of “Wheaties” a couple of times which is “The Breakfast of Champions”. I thought though when I looked up Champion mine that it was in New Mexico.

    I’ve got a bad memory though. I like Colorado solve though. I wish everybody was searching in Colorado. Thanks for the write up. Nice pics too!

  7. Aaron, sounds like a fun trip, this, a 10,200′ high city in the sky is of course home to one “Molly Brown” of “Titanic” fame and she is probably the most famous person of that name, in the Rockies. It seems odd to me that you did not use any hints from the Book or any of his books, and on the surface of a solve purely of the poem’s words and meanings this solve is good as any, but what seems missing here is the reason for a 21 mile space, you said, too far too walk, which in all the books there are totally diverse aspects of “Not Far, But too Far to walk” IMO? What is a term like not far but too far to walk if there is no hint somewhere?

    Somehow I have never felt that “too far to walk was referencing just a distance, I see it as both a distance and a ride, although you mentioned abandoned RR tracks, even had a beautiful scenic RR showing the Aspens Ablaze beside it….but if someone in the beginning of the chase say in 2011 to 2013 was within 200′ of Indulgence and many have been within 500′ they probably did not travel a random 21 mile drive to get there, more likely the TC is closer to WWWH than 21 miles, now with that said about the distance, this elevation and the mode of travel come into focus for perhaps a shorter ride, or walk. JMO.

    Just a thought, Leadville, CO is on the exact Longitude in the Western Hemisphere as the longitude in the Eastern Hemisphere at the place in Laos where Forrest was rescued in Dec of 1968 after being shot down, that might be a clue too. Oddly enough, there is a string of mountains tops south of Leadville, CO which are all the colors of the rainbow, including black, red, green etc now how is a rainbow like a longitude, it has many of the same principals. These peaks are all on the 106 longitude same as leadville and nearly a match for Mt Elbert on exact lines south.

    Your write up was well done and makes me think about how everyone sees this poem and what it represents in so many dimensions, a great adventure to be had at the foot of Mt Elbert, the highest in Rockies, it is only 10 miles away from Leadville.


    • Most of your thoughts occurred to me at one time or another. The 21 (actually 29 now that I look) mile drive is actually a straight shot from Leadville. Get on highway 24 in Leadville and it will take you right along the canyon rim. There aren’t many roads leading out of Leadville.

      My other thought about TFTW involved a shorter distance with some natural barrier (waterfall, lake, etc…) that prevented walking. I couldn’t find anything more promising with this line of thinking though.

      The railroad picture at the top was added by Dal (great artistic flair I might add). This is the railroad in Leadville. We went for a ride on it actually, although the aspens were still green. Stunningly beautiful and they had great BBQ on that particular ride!

      I looked into Molly Brown and the site of her husband’s mine. I was hoping for a second solve at the last minute. Nothing panned out with it though. Too high up.

      We didn’t end up going to Mt. Ebert, but we did go down to Mt Antero and hiked up Little Brown Creek (not the trail, I don’t like trails). The scenery was like something out of a movie.

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply! Good luck.

  8. Aaron,
    Seems you had a good time, and having fun is what counts.
    The folks in the incorporated TOWN
    of nearby ALMA, take umbrage that
    Leadville, (listed as a CITY-_hmmm)
    gets credit for height, when ALMA
    clocks in between 10,300-10,550..and possibly higher counting new subdivisions.
    You, don’t understand this yet, but hopefully you will someday, that at
    + 70, bone fractures are something to be mitigated at all costs….. Use that as a
    good guide when thinking about loc & ff
    secreting TC.

    • Actually I took my mother (69 years old) along on the trip as my wife didn’t want to go. She was sort of my barometer for safety, and she didn’t feel comfortable going up the last bit with me to the heavy loads and water high. Yet another reason why this wasn’t the spot.

      She was a trooper though! Aside from the last bit of the hike to my spot, she stuck with me the whole time. Maybe a bit slower than I would have preferred, but that just gave me the chance to really take in the scenery.

  9. great job Aaron, mission accomplished indeed in a very fine manner.
    i like the red raspberries too the green ones are yuky.

    now where is the chest of the poem?

  10. I had the same issue with pictures on my last BOTG. I didn’t take enough where I should have and I was missing some off of my phone when I got home. It is easy to get excited and off plan when you’re BOTG. Let’s just say I had went off the trail and around the trees and underbrush for a few minutes(hours) trying to find indulgence but I had tunnel-vision and didn’t search thorough enough. Now if I can convince my wife to let me go back this season!

    Nice, and thanks for the share!

  11. On my last BOTG I didn’t take enough pictures where I needed to and I somehow lost a few out of my phone when I got home so I know the feeling. It’s easy to get excited and amped up while BOTG. I had went off the trail and around the trees and underbrush for a few minutes (hours) to find indulgence but the excitement gave me tunnel-vision and I didn’t search thorough enough. I’m hoping to go back out ASAP if I can convince the wife to let me lol.

    Nice, and thanks for the share!

  12. Here’s a hint few know about. In English we pronounce Colorado ( Kaw-lo-raw-do) which we take to mean Ruddy. In actuality If we spell our English pronunciation in Spanish it is spelled Acalorado, which in Spanish means WARM.

    • Or maybe it’s translated from Spanish to mean “colored red.”

      What does “Colorado” mean?
      Colorado is of Spanish origin, meaning “colored red.”

      The name was applied to the Colorado river because of the red sandstone soil of the region, and came into use for the entire territory after the discovery of gold in the Pike’s Peak region. In 1861 congress chose Colorado as the name for the Territory. In 1876 Colorado became the 38th state.

        • colorado
          1 (rojo) red
          colorado como un tomate. as red as a beetroot o beet
          ponerse colorado. to blush

          Colorado = Colored Red.

          If you take a word and then choose another word that sounds close to it in another language it doesn’t mean they are the same.

          Colorado does not equate to Acalorado, it just sounds similar and has similar spelling.

          Take for example the word “Embarrassed” in English.
          The word in Spanish, “Embarazada” does not mean the same as the English word “Embarrassed” just because it sounds similar and has similar spelling.

  13. Aaron R,

    Of all the solutions written up by searchers yours breaks through as one of my favorites – it doesn’t suffer from over complication and therefore is less likely to contain more of your ideas than Forrest’s intended clues.

    Secondly, you took your “map” with you and used it to inform you during the BOG adventure – in my experience and based on Forrest comments this is how the wiles of nature are correctly navigated.



  14. Aaron, how much do want to bet that you have been 200 feet from that treasure.
    Loved that u searched Colorado isn’t it beautiful.

  15. Thanks for sharing Aaron R,
    It wasn’t so far-fetched that it was over my head. And, like a champion, you gave it a go…Full. On. Treasure Mode.

  16. Just wanted to say thank you for posting your adventure. I’ve been retired from the Chase for a while due to having babies… ok my wife had them, now i’m dealing with them 🙂 Anyways, your solve definitely gave me a couple new ways of looking at things.
    Thanks again, good luck and be safe.

  17. Leadville sounds reasonable as hob. An entire state could also be considered as a home. Illinois, the land or home of LAbe Lincoln.

    Minnesota……the home of Paul Bunyon. Kansas….the home Dorthy and Toto.

    Putting it all together….Put in below Colorado the home of Molly Brown.


  18. Thanks for sharing, Aaron! This was an enjoyable read and looked like a fun area to explore.

    My eyes were drawn to the Red Cliff Bridge and the Green Bridge Overlook; two of the Tea with Olga colors. I can’t tell from Google Earth exactly what the Green Bridge is though. Is it the bridge where the railroad tracks cross Eagle River?

    Also, I’m curious where you parked your car when you set out on the abandoned railroad tracks. Did you park on the edge of the town of Red Cliff and walk westwards, or did you come from the other direction? Just asking because I like following along on a map with other people’s solves.

    Glad that you had a good trip out to Colorado! Hope you can make it out again in the not-too-distant future!

    • We parked in red cliff and walked out the tracks. We could have parked in water street outside of town but we would have had to cross private property. Others had no issue with this though. I’m not sure about the green bridge, the red cliff Bridge is beautiful though

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